Don't Try This at Home
Scary movies usually offer lots of thrills and chills. Like so many film fans, I love to be frightened while watching terrifying things happen on screen. So I’m always surprised when a movie of this genre fails to work for me. Unfortunately, Death Note is one of those films. It doesn’t start out that way, however.
High school student Light Turner, played by Nat Wolff, seems like a sympathetic character right away. He’s being bullied -- and we are on his side immediately. As Light, Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars) manages to project a great deal of screen appeal here. And when Light becomes the keeper of a mysterious notebook that comes with a spikey-headed demon (voiced by Willem Dafoe), we can hardly wait to see what he will do with it.
But as soon as Light -- along with his girlfriend (Margaret Qualley) -- go too far with this power and a famous detective (Lakeith Stanfield) starts to hunt him down, the movie begins to fall apart.
A notebook falls and somehow lands
into your very shaky hands.
And what is written down inside
makes you decide the book to hide.
But its power has you amazed.
It even the Death Demon raised.
What would you do? What do you say?
You now can make bad people pay.
Just by writing out their right names.
This Demon is not playing games!
Will all this power and killing
be for you a bit too thrilling?
If you’re discovered, well, what then?
It has to come -- just where or when?
The Death Note film covers all this.
Is it a hit? Sadly, a miss.
Performances rate high, at least,
and Dafoe’s vocal for the beast.
The first half promises so much
but last half loses the right touch.
Too bad the frantic action flops.
It’s too jumbled before it stops.
Scary in parts, I must admit.
So some horror fans might like it.
Death Note, directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest, a terrific film!), is an adaptation of a famous Japanese manga by Tsugumi Oba and Takeshi Obata. I understand that screenwriters Charley Parlapanides (Immortals), Vlas Parlapanidas (Immortals) and Jeremy Slater (The Lazarus Effect) made many changes to the story. That makes me wonder how much better this offering might be if they stayed with the original source.
(Released by Netflix and rated TV-MA.)
For more information about Death Note, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.